In I Made You A Mixtape, we ask our favorite musicians, actors, writers, directors, or whatevers to strut their musical savvy: We pick a theme, they make us a mix.
The mixer: Matt And Kim’s musical career has been a bit of a slow burn. While the pair’s first record, Matt & Kim, was praised by indie-rock fans upon its release in 2006, it sold fewer than 7,000 copies in the U.S. The group toured at length, though, winning fans on the road. All that set the stage for 2009’s Grand, Matt And Kim’s breakthrough record, and 2010’s hip-hop-tinged Sidewalks. With Lightning, the band’s newest record, the duo is back to its hell-raising roots, making upbeat pop tracks with just a couple of instruments and a whole lot of energy. Considering they spend so much time together—Matt And Kim are also dating—it seemed apt to ask them to make a mixtape of songs by twosomes. Kim Schifino made the list, but The A.V. Club talked to Matt Johnson about each of the tracks.
The A.V. Club: So Kim made the tape and you get to talk about it?
Matt Johnson: Yeah. [Laughs.] I mean, Kim takes care of everything in our lives. But her one fear in life is talking on the phone. She won’t even pick up the phone when I call her. She only texts. So I’m happy to chat on the phone. We’re almost, in a sort of disgusting way, so close to being the same person anyway. If you’re at a party and you talk to one of us and then walk over to the other side of the room and talk to the other one, we’ll have all the same stories and opinions. She showed me her playlist before she sent it out and it got a 100 percent stamp of approval from my side.
Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z, “’03 Bonnie & Clyde”
MJ: It’s interesting, in the pop world, which songs live on and which don’t. I have this memory of when this song came out, and I enjoyed it then. But I loved it more when I revisited it after it had moved on and was out of the light of the world. People always ask us if we could be any other duo, who would we be? Would we be The Carpenters? No, we’d be Jay-Z and Beyoncé. We are huge Jay-Z and Beyoncé fans. We’ve gone to see them separately a bunch of times and then when they came together it was like, this is too much. And now they have a baby. That’s going to be the coolest kid ever.
AVC: They’ve been spotted at indie-rock shows in Brooklyn. Have you ever seen them at a show?
MJ: We’ve been seriously jealous whenever they’ve gone to see like Beach House and Grizzly Bear and stuff at the Williamsburg waterfront. Like, “Damn it, we would have appreciated it so much more if they came to our show!” [Laughs.]
Lil Wayne featuring Cory Gunz, “6 Foot 7 Foot”
MJ: As you can tell, Kim and I listen to a lot of hip-hop, especially Top 40 hip-hop. This song, immediately when I heard it on the radio, I was like, “What is this?” It had a great loop from the beginning. And I’ve been a big fan of Lil Wayne since about Tha Carter III. I remember hearing that album and feeling mixed on it at first and later becoming a fan of it. There’s a certain cleverness. Writing lyrics is so damn hard. It’s always the last thing Kim and I do on a song. It’s so hard to think of lyrics that just have line after line of clever stuff.
Lloyd Banks featuring Juelz Santana, “Beamer, Benz, Or Bentley”
MJ: I love Juelz Santana big time. He has a lot of songs that I love. We like things that are fun and make you want to dance and not sit in your seat and whatnot. This just falls into that category. There was a great remix done that was called, “Honda, Nissan, or Chevy” or something about crappy cars. We really connected more to that version. [Laughs.]
Meek Mill featuring Drake, “Amen”
MJ: That’s one of my favorite hip-hop songs on the radio right how. Again, another great loop. And just musically and lyrically really good. I immediately connect to songs that I like the production in. There’s an uplifting vibe about it. I couldn’t really tell you what any of the lyrics are about, but I could probably sing them. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing, but that’s just how I work.
Simon And Garfunkel, “Cecilia”
MJ: It fits right into the rest of these, right? [Laughs.] Just perfectly. But we connect to songs that have a good beat and make you want to jump around, and that’s what “Cecilia” has. As far as Simon And Garfunkel songs go, it’s just so percussive. It sounds like a group of people jumping around and stomping together.
AVC: According to the liner notes on Paul Simon’s Anthology, that’s what they did. Simon And Garfunkel were slapping their thighs, and then Paul’s brother Eddie was thumping on a piano bench. Another friend was strumming a guitar that had its strings slackened.
MJ: Oh yeah? Well, perfect. [Laughs.] In that sense, it fits right into this list in a very bizarre way.
AVC: It has a lot of joy, and most Simon and Garfunkel songs don’t.
MJ: Yeah, you can’t really compare it to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” It’s a very different vibe.
Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa (featuring Bruno Mars), “Young, Wild & Free” MJ: I don’t know if this is one that will stand the test of time. It was the movie that had Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg in it, which I can only imagine is a disaster. I haven’t seen it yet. It went straight to DVD as far as I know. [Laughs.]
AVC: The acting in the video isn’t great.
MJ: The day before Snoop Dogg announced he was changing his name to Snoop Lion, we played with Snoop Dogg. So maybe we played the last Snoop Dogg show.
Jay-Z and Kanye West, “Gotta Have It”
MJ: My favorite song off Watch The Throne. We went to the Watch The Throne tour. So many lasers. Way more lasers than I’ve ever seen. I believe this song is Pharrell-produced. I loved what he did in the past, and then there was a while when he was doing stuff that I just didn’t really connect to, so it was awesome to hear this. As far as the duos thing goes, Jay-Z and Kanye are obviously a force to be reckoned with. And the fact that they got together for an album was huge.
Matt & Kim, “Now”
AVC: You had to put one of your own songs on here.
MJ: Well, “Now” is interesting compared with what we did on our last album. We really made this song a song that was built for a live show—the type of live show that we usually have where everyone gets pretty wild and jumps around.
When we first put it up online for everyone to hear, we were getting texts from friends saying, “I’m having a small mosh pit with my wife in our bed while listening to this song.” [Laughs.] So hopefully it has the desired effect and gets people excited. When it comes to our whole mixture of duos, we just look for stuff that makes you want to get up and dance and get crazy. There are a lot of duos that could have taken this mix in a whole different direction. Like Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe.” But as far as the duos on our radar, these are the ones who make us want to shake our booties. [Laughs.]